National report praises county's bid to tackle loneliness in Norfolk

15 December 2017

Norfolk’s campaign to tackle loneliness has been hailed as best practice, in a national report by the Jo Cox Commission.

The County Council’s award-winning In Good Company campaign has been praised for turning “strategy into action” and for creating “a movement against loneliness, right across the county.”  It has encouraged residents, businesses and communities to do more to alleviate loneliness.

Wendy Thomson, Managing Director of Norfolk County Council, said:  “I called for this campaign because of the way loneliness affects the health and wellbeing of thousands of our residents.  Lonely people are more likely to suffer poor health and become victims of scams and fraud.  They are more likely to lose their independence and become reliant on public services sooner.

“We share the view of the Jo Cox Commission that combatting loneliness is everybody’s business and we are committed to doing as much as we can to bring our county together to reduce the problem.”

Cllr Alison Thomas, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council, said:  “I give my wholehearted political leadership and backing to our work here in Norfolk, not least because of my personal conviction that tackling loneliness is something that matters so much.  Every single one of us can do something, no matter how small, to make a big difference to someone who is lonely. 

“So I’m very proud that the great work being done in Norfolk to tackle loneliness has achieved national recognition.  The campaign has inspired more local events, more volunteers and more inter-generational activity, like theDigital Buddies project in South Norfolk, which I have personally supported.  Scores of organisations have been recognised by the campaign for combatting the problem in their local communities.

“More is planned for the coming year, including a summit that will bring the county’s key decision makers together for further action and to help ensure that no one spends a lonely day in Norfolk if they don’t want to.”

The final report of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, published on Friday 15 December, calls for a new national strategy to combat loneliness, concluding that:  ‘Tackling loneliness is a generational challenge that can only be met by concerted action by everyone.  Governments, employers, businesses, civil society organisations, families, communities and individuals all have a role to play.’

The cross-party commission is supported by thirteen leading charities and businesses. It notes that loneliness affects people of all ages and has a profoundly damaging impact on the nation’s health, wellbeing and economy.

  • Over nine million adults are often or always lonely

  • Loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Three-quarters of GPs say they see up to five patients every day who are lonely
  • Loneliness is estimated to cost employers £2.5 billion every year. 

In Norfolk: 

  • 38,000 people aged 65+in Norfolk are lonely, of which 19,000 are chronically lonely and more at risk (ONS wellbeing survey) not to mention more who are lonely through isolation caused by physical or mental health problems at any age
  • 3 in 10 of those aged 80 or over reported being lonely in 2014/15
  • Over half of people surveyed by Norfolk County Council who receive a service in the county said they don’t get the amount of social contact they would like, with a quarter saying they never leave their home

For political comment

Cllr Alison Thomas, Deputy Leader of the Council and Conservative Group on 07920 286603 
Cllr Steve Morphew, Leader of the Labour Group, on 07889 430673 
Cllr Dan Roper, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, on 07920 441 970

For interviews with Wendy Thomson and Alison Thomas please contact the Communications Team on 01603 228888 or

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